May 15, 2013

Saying Goodbye to Nana

My mom visited us from Memphis last week.  She wanted to surprise her brother for his 60th, birthday party.  The day she traveled to see us, he called me and tried to call her to tell her that their mother, my Nana, was starting her final descent into what I hoped would be her new life.

We decided to make the trek to Tuscon to see her sooner rather than later, with all my kids in tow so that they could see her for the last time.  It ended up being a beautiful visit.  She recognized my mom and sang to her.  I didn't get to witness much of her visit because one of the kids had to use the facilities, which are at the entrance for visitors.  My mom said that the "J" kids were wonderful with her, holding her hand and telling her they loved her with little encouragement.  Before she left, my mom told Nana how much she loved her and that she was the best mom any child could hope to have.  Nana replied in something that sounded like "I love you, too."  Considering her speech center had been decimated for at least a year, this was a HUGE blessing to both of us.  After all my kids said their good-byes, my mom took them out and Nana and I had alone time.

First of all, I am completely sure that she recognized me for the first time in a LONG time.  I started out telling Nana how much I loved her and she sang back her reply, which wasn't as clear as what she had said to mom.  I asked her if she believed that Jesus died for her sins so that she was right with God.  She nodded her head (blessing upon blessing!).  Then I told her to follow God where He led her next because it was going to be a really good place.  I told her that we would miss her, but in a very short time, we would be joining her.  I then told her that in this new place, she would be given a new body and new clothes and all the things she had lost would be returned to her so that she could do the things that she used to do.  I spent some time remembering all the things that she and I used to do when I was a little girl.  As I recounted all the things we did, I saw a look of clarity and joy in her eyes as she remembered with me (How He loves us, Oh how He loves us!).  All the while, she would reply in songs that I couldn't quite understand.  I prayed for her and told her that I loved her one last time before letting go of her hand.  It was so hard to say good-bye.

Two days later, my uncle called to tell me that she had died.  I am so glad that God blessed that last visit with clarity for her and closure for all of us.

Nana died at the age of 89.  She survived all of her friends, both siblings, one sister who died as a child and a brother who died flying one of his last missions in WWII, as well as two grandsons and two great-grandbabies. She raised three kids largely on her own, even though she was married, because of severe character defects in her husband.  She owned her own home decorating business called "The Inside Shop" in Green Valley for several years.  In her sixties, she took care of her mother, who had senile dementia for many years, delivering papers in the early morning to make extra money while her mom slept so she could be with her during the day when her mom needed more supervision.  She developed a wicked throw, too.   She is survived by two sons and a daughter, three grand-daughters and a grandson, fourteen(?) great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.  Below are pictures, with thanks to my Uncle Jeff, who has kept them and scanned many of them over the last few years.

Nana as a toddler on the left, with her mother, brother, and grandmother
Nana's high school graduation picture

Nana with her three children.  
Nana with her dad at his 50th Wedding Anniversary

I look forward to seeing her in her new body when I join her in heaven, where there will be no more "good-byes".

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